7.31.2009

Up! A Review


Before, I launch into my review of Pixar's latest blockbuster release, Up!, I have to admit, I haven't actually seen the movie. But I have read the colouring book. So my comments are based entirely upon that.

Truth be told, going into this colouring book, my hopes were pretty high. While I've never read any of the colouring book adaptations of their films in the past, I have enjoyed every single Pixar release I've seen. From Toy Story to the Incredibles to Wall-E, their work is witty, rich, complex and visually stunning. I'm not generally a fan of computer animation, but in the hands of Pixar, the cold precision of pixel art becomes warm and endearing. I'd pretty much decided I'd follow Pixar wherever they decided to go.

And yet, back before it was released, upon hearing what the hook for Up! was -- grumpy old man ties baloons to his house so he can escape his neighbourhood -- my immediate thought was, "Wow, this doesn't sound like my kind of movie at all." But, seeing as it was Pixar, I trusted they'd be able to win me over.

Well, after reading the colouring book, I think I should've trusted my initial reaction. If the plot of the movie bears any relation to what I've read, frankly, this film is a disaster.

(Warning: numerous spoilers ahead... of the colouring book... and maybe the movie, I'm not sure.)

The story opens with grumpy old man, Carl, floating away in his balloon-carried home. Sadly, the colouring book never really makes his motivation for tying balloons to his house clear, and I have to admit I found this jarring. But the idea was sufficiently amusing that I was willing to follow along and see where this floating two storey took me.

But before getting anywhere, I had to endure a couple of those obligatory "puzzle pages" that still plague the colouring book genre.

First up, there's a tedious "circle the two Russells that look exactly alike" puzzle. After that there's a truly baffling one where you're supposed to circle plates to keep them from cracking. The scene depicts the house shaking about in a storm so, presumably, your waxy circles of crayon are somehow supposed to save the china from crashing on the floor -- unnecessary busy work, if you ask me, as the plates are going to hover in the air forever because this is after all a picture in a colouring book and not a scene in a motion picture.

What turns this "puzzle" into a real annoyance, though, is that after all this circling you're supposed to identify how many unbroken plates there are. Do they mean how many in the picture are drawn unbroken? Or how many will remain unbroken if my crayon circles are drawn with precision about them? What if one of my circles isn't completely closed or if what passes for a "circle" from my three year old is really more of a scribble in the vicinity of a plate? Do we count those plates as broken? You see my confusion?

The colouring book never clarifies any of this but fortunately it provides a solution if you turn the page upside down. Phew! (Spoiler: the answer's four.)

Finally, Carl and his house wind up somewhere called "Paradise Falls" and it's here that things really go off the rails.

I won't blow the rest of the story -- such as it is -- for you. Suffice it to say it involves an exotic species of bird, mastiffs with talking dog collars and a mad scientist.

Up until this point I've been willing to happily suspend my disbelief. Floating house? No problem, I can accept that. But talking dogs and mad scientists? Come on.

No, seriously. A floating house with balloons coming out its chimney is a great idea. But a huge part of the magic of it derives from the fact that this house is special. Unique. If it exists alongside a completely unrelated island inhabited by talking dogs and mad scientists, the magic gets diluted. It's just one more crazy thing in a world where all sorts of crazy business goes on. Ho hum.

From then on out, the colouring book plot unravels pretty much as you'd expect, peppered along the way with a few too-easily-solved mazes and more of those "circle the two things that are the same" puzzles. (Nobody likes those puzzles. Why do colouring book writers continue to rely upon them? Is it laziness or malice?)

So far, Up! is coming up lacking, but at least with Pixar you can pretty much be guaranteed a colourful, visually-impressive spectacle if nothing else.

Not so with the colouring book, I'm afraid.

The art is standard black-outline fare, nothing innovative going on here. And as for the colours.... Well, the colouring book I picked up actually came with four crayons -- a nice touch, I have to admit. But the colours they chose were a pale lime green, pink, yellow and an innocuous purply-blue. Hardly inspired choices, and I have to wonder at what the editors were thinking. The lack of a fleshtone makes colouring the human characters difficult. And as anyone who's done any serious colouring knows, yellow crayons are almost always invisible on paper. Frustrating!

At least my daughter was happy to have a pink.

Ultimately, I can't say I came away with particularly fond feelings for Up! and I'm not inclined to see the movie at this point.

In short, I'll have to give Up! The Colouring Book a big thumbs down.

Daily Moon: One Last One

Streaming into my iTunes today came the Quiet Village's Moon Episode, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Apollo XI mission. I'm listening to it right now. The Quiet Village, by the way, is my favourite tiki/lounge/exotica podcast. And, yes, I listen to enough of those to have a favourite.

Anyway, listening to all this space age music reminded me that I still have a pile of moon-themed advertisements scanned from that July 1969 Globe and Mail that I haven't posted yet. So here they are.


And while I was scanning all these, I happened to look over the movie listings and discovered that sandwiched in between decent fare like True Grit and Midnight Cowboy there were a few really dirty movies. Have a look...



The Miracle of Love. Inga. The Gay Deceivers. Yowza. And mom always said movies were so much more wholesome back in the day.

Jane Austen needs more tentacles

Quirk Classics, the mad publishers who decided that Pride and Prejudice needed more zombies, seems to determined to continue to milk their success. Thus in September they are introducing tentacles to classic literature with Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

Here's an amusing trailer to promote the book.

Nostalgia Alert




Be forewarned, Aug. 15-18 marks the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock. Formally billed as An Aquarian Exposition, it was held on a 600-acre dairy farm owned by Max Yasgur in Bethel, NY, a hamlet 43-miles southwest of a small New York town called Woodstock. It was undoubtedly a special moment in history. One that has been commemorated through an outstanding documentary directed by Michael Wadleigh and edited by Thelma Schoonmaker and Martin Scorsese, and numerous essays, novels, songs, interviews, movies and whatnot recalling the event and analyzing it from every angle imaginable. The news and entertainment media, as they are wont to do, will beat this story to death. Before they do, I'd thought I'd offer this as a reminder of how special Woodstock was.

Friday News Wrap Up

Here are a few news items to check out if you're looking to melt your eyes against a computer screen this weekend.

First, there's this story of a Brit who, covinced the Americans were hiding UFO evidence, hacked the hell out of military and NASA computers. He's facing extradition to the U.S., which under normal circumstances would be reasonable for cyber-crime (albeit pretty harmless cyber-crime, $700 K in alleged damage aside). The problem is that the hacker, 43-year-old Gary McKinnon, has Asberger's syndrome and is likely to be emotionally demolished by an experience in the U.S. courts. Nevertheless the U.S. is still pushing for extradition. And his own country is not doing enough to protect him. Story's here (Guardian). Hey, maybe then the Americans can just extraordinarily rendition him to Syria to be tortured. Save all those pesky jail and court costs.

Second, Corazon Aquino, a person and newsmaker I'd shamefully forgotten about, has died. Aquino was a former president of the Philippines who led an uprising to overthrew the regime of son of a bitch dictator (and naturally, friend of Ronald Reagan) Ferdinand Marcos, whose wife was the famous Imelda of the 10,000 shoes. Aquino was an important woman--and this obit in the Globe And Mail deserves your time.

Finally, here's a funny, sarcastic cartoon showing how the U.S. is totally screwed. (Salon) And that's as good a note as any to head to the bar on. Cheers!

Minimum Age Law Examined, Found Evil

Saskatoon blogger Joe Kuchta has another of his famous, mega-researched, lonnnnnng posts up over at his blog Owls And Roosters. This time Kuchta details a connection between Canadian Federation of Independant Business (CFIB) desires and Sask Party policy on the question of kids under 16 working. His basic point: that the CFIB pushed for the controversial rules because small Saskatchewan businesses need more worker bees. Not because it's good for young workers.

You can read it here.

On the topic... someone should, at some point, do a comprehensive study comparing the Saskatchewan NDP's alleged favouritism of the labour agenda to the Saskatchewan Party's oft-suggested favouritism of business. I predict The Sask Party government would be shown to be a lot more business-friendly than the NDP was ever labour-friendly.

But that's just a (very reasonable) guess.

Listen!


Photo of Whitworth going "blah blah blah" at poor Michelle Hugli by Darrol Hofmeister, sharpshooter photography.

As usual on Fridays, Chris Kirkland from Planet S and I will be on CBC Radio's afternoon edition to tell you all what you should do with your weekend. Like we have any idea. Feel free to tune in and marvel at our silliness. You can also listen here, I think. Gotta run, stardom calls.

UPDATE: We were already on so you don't have to listen anymore. But you know what? You still can if you want!

New Dog!
























Cover by Dakota McFadzean

The new issue of prairie dog came out yesterday, as usualy tightly-packed with all manner of wonderful articles and stories, even though (for a change) we have nothing about condo coversions or nuclear power plants or anything by Carle Steel. Well, that one guy did say to give her lots of time off...

Here's a short list of what you'll find inside.

FOLKY 40! It's the 40th anniversary of the Regina Folk Festival. To mark the birthday, Stephen Larose revists the origins of Regina's greatest annual event, while a fully-loaded squad of prairie dog writers (i.e., Rosie plus Gregory Beatty and Paul Dechene) look at how the world has changed since the festival was born. Oh and also, there's a long interview with Folk Festival musician/crazyman Chad Vangaalen, previews of top acts Plants And Animals and Ghost Bees (AKA the band too twee to be interviewed), and a feature on some Saskatchewan acts you'll see on stage during Festival weekend.

BEYOND FARGODOME So we're considering a new stadium in Regina, are we? Dechene, a sensible fellow, does the obvious thing and calls up some Fargoans (Fargonids?) to see how their dome's worked out for them.

THE LAST SOLDIER FALLS Gwynne Dyer eulogizes the passing of the last remaining WWI veteran and muses on war's general awfulness. A terrific, must-not-miss column.

GREAT GALLOPING GOBS OF GREEN GRAVY, THERE'S MORE? Of course there is. The new issue has piles of good stuff, including David Suzuki, News Quirks, a story on City Council salaries, Street Wear, some good read mail, Top 6 columns galore, the latest Typo Weiner contest champ (who as usual won $10 and a T-shirt), Ask Greg, CD reviews, a splendid interview with the always-excellent band The Pack A.D., who played here last night but I missed them (fortunately I saw them last time) and more stuff. I think there's a grudging footnote on Aerosmith and ZZ Top in there somewhere, too. Anyway, a good issue, make sure you pick it up--it's available at like 400 locations in Regina including most grocery and convenience stores, plus stands and street boxes all over the place. And see you at the Folk Festival next weekend. I'm the purple guy.

Friday Afternoon Kitty!

















Earlier this week a military police officer in Scotland filmed...something cat-like...that he claims is one of Britain's mysterious "Big Cats"--unidentified felidae of robust proportions that allegedly roam the British countryside. Click to see his jerky, 10-second cell phone video here--if you DARE. (Telegraph). For more on Britain's Big Cats, click here (Google). Should help you kill at least an hour of the pre-long weekend afternoon at work.

Review Follow-up



For anyone who reads my review in the July 30 prairie dog of the war and violence-themed show Diabolique that's on at the Dunlop Gallery until Aug. 30, be advised that when I initially viewed the show and wrote my review I overlooked a wonderful work by Romanian artist Bogdan Achimescu that's installed above the reference desk and computer work stations on the main floor of Central library. It consists of hundreds of small-scale portrait drawings on paper strung across the ceiling. Given Romania's tragic modern history, it could be viewed as a memorial to the thousands of people in the country who have lost their lives due to political persecution and war. In more general terms, it could also be viewed as a memorial to victims of violence and oppression everywhere. Or the ability of the human spirit to triumph over political oppression and armed aggression. Regardless, make sure you check it out when you see Diabolique.

Six In The Morning

1 HE BOUGHT IT, THEY BROKE IT Responding to perhaps the greatest case study of irony the world has ever seen, a teenager is launching a class-action lawsuit against Amazon.com for erasing the copy of George Orwell's 1984 he bought for his Kindle. His attorney: "Amazon.com had no more right to hack into people's Kindles than its customers have the right to hack into Amazon's bank account to recover a mistaken overpayment." Go get 'em, kid. (CBC)

2 SASK WORKERS MAKING MORE MONEY Saskatchewanians earned close to four per cent more than at the same time last year. Saskatchewan average earnings for payroll workers (I guess this means people paid hourly?) are still below the national average, though. (StarPhoenix)

3 SASK ECONOMY LOOKING GOOD...OR NOT Predictions differ on the province's short-term economic prospects. (Leader-Post)

4 HONDURAS COUP: MILITARY STILL IN CHARGE, WEST STILL DOING VERY LITTLE Grunt. (Guardian)

5 GIVE UP, ALREADY A senior military advisor says it's time for the U.S. to leave Iraq. (New York Times)

6 ABOUT THAT BEER... What can you learn from the beer someone drinks? How about when it's the U.S. president who's drinking it? (The Stranger/Slog)

7.30.2009

It's Hurting Time!



In my duty as movie listing guy, I have to mention that Kathryn Bigelow's latest movie The Hurt Locker is playing at the Galaxy starting Friday July 31. I didn't think we were ever going to get this film, it's been playing in limited release since June and in a weekend where nothing but crap is opening - Judd Apatow's Funny People doesn't look very funny and the less said about Aliens in the Attic the better - this is a welcome breath of fresh air.

The story follows a group of US soldiers as they deactivate bombs in Iraq. The movie has a 98% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 121 reviews and it looks very intense. It's going to be leaps and bounds better than the upcoming G.I. Joe fluff that Hollywood seems to be pouring down movie goers throats.

If You Strike Me Down, I Will Become More Purple Than You Can Possibly Imagine


Things to do when you're in your 40s and kind of lame: 1.) Buy an expensive sports car. 2.) Leave your spouse for someone wildly inappropriate. 3.) Dye your hair. Dye it awesome. I can't wait for the next time I have to go somewhere looking like a professional.

The Pack is Back

Pack AD make their triumphant return to Regina tonight. They're playing the Exchange. Go.



Seriously. Go. Trust the awesomeness of that video above. And this post from Whitworth. Need more convincing? Check out their website.

About that video, is it just me or does it feel like the Pack maybe watched a few too many Twisted Sister videos back in the day. In a good way, I mean.

Hello, Stanley

Winger Chris Kunitz of the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins will bring the best damn trophy in pro sports to Regina on August 10. (Leader-Post) Mark your calendars, hockey fans.

By the way, for those not familiar with Kunitz he's an excellent late-round pick in fantasy hockey drafts who brings a nice mix of points, plus-minus and especially penalty minutes.

Six In The Morning

1 SURPRISINGLY, IRANIANS ARE STILL ANGRY Forty days after the horrifying on-camera death of bystander Neda Soltan, Iranians are mourning, protesting, clashing and dying. (Guardian)

2 GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT A Carleton University professor charged with murder and accused of terrorism has been fired. Not suspended with pay pending the results of courtroom drama. Fired. (The Toronto Star).

3 GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT (WAFER-THIN EDITION) A Newfoundland newspaper apologizes for its much-reposted story about Prime Minister Stephen Harper possibly not eating a communion wafer. Earlier, the paper fired its editor and publisher. (CBC) Here's Dog Blog's original post on wafergate, complete with a couple delightfully over-the-top closing sentences.

4 HORRIBLE ANNIVERSARY A year ago today, a Greyhound bus passenger was savagely killed by a profoundly crazy individual. R.I.P. (CBC)

5 CALIFORNIA REAMING Schwarzenegger and company aren't doing so well in opinion polls after the dysfunctional, nay broken, state's budget crisis. (L.A. Times)

6 HOW MANY ZEROS IS THAT, ANYWAYS? The U.S. congress prepares to vote on a $636 billion Pentagon spending bill. Sounds like they'll pass it, but without the $100 million needed to shut down Guantanamo. This bill will put the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars over one trillion dollars. (Salon)

Remember, it's only socialism when it's health care. Spending a trillon dollars of public money on jets, bombs and soldiers is legitimate capitalism. Got that? Good. By the way, it's six zeros and nine digets (not counting change).

7.29.2009

My Darling Clementine


If I was to mention the words two-fisted, rough-riding and shoot-em up, along with "Reckless, Riotous Frontier Adventure!" The words My Darling Clementine don't exactly spring to mind.

There was time when I hated John Ford films. Being raised on Sergio Leone Westerns - I just couldn't get into Ford's movies. When I saw The Searchers for the first time - I hated it. Dull, slow moving and racist were my first impressions of the film. The next Ford film I saw, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, didn't change my opinion much.

Fast forward a few years and I ended up re-watching The Searchers. And my opinion has been completely reversed. Here was a movie that was beautifully shot, brilliantly staged and extremely entertaining. As for the racist part, it occurred to me that it was more that John Wayne's character was racist and not necessarily the film. Certainly Jeffrey (the original Captain Pike) Hunter's character wasn't racist. Next thing I know I'm watching a ton of John Ford films which brings me to My Darling Clementine. Despite the wussy title, this film is Ford's take on that oft told tale of the west, the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. And it is a two-fisted, rough-riding, shoot-em up "Reckless, Riotous Frontier Adventure!" and damn entertaining movie.

This was the fourth film to tell the tale of that legendary gunfight. The first three Frontier Marshall (1934 &1939) and Tombstone: The Town Too Tough to Die took extreme liberties with the story. Heck the first Frontier Marshall has it Michael Wyatt instead of Wyatt Earp. Ford had known Wyatt Earp and based the gunfight on what Earp had told him. The rest of the movie is typical Hollywood invention.

The story takes place the year after the actual gunfight took place. Wyatt (Henry Fonda) Earp and his three brothers are taking a herd of cattle to California. They stop near the town of Tombstone, Arizona by way of Monument Valley. When Wyatt and his brothers go into town, their brother James is murdered and their cattle rustled. They decide to stay in Tombstone and find their brother's killer. There Wyatt meets Doc Holliday (Victor Mature) and both men find themselves in love with the same woman. A woman named Clementine (thus the title of the film). They also team up to fight the greatest evil ever to grace the screen, Walter Brennan as Old Man Clanton. A man so evil, he is not only murderer and rustler, he also whips his own sons for not killing Wyatt. "When ya pull a gun, kill a man." It's hard to believe that this is the same actor that played that lovable crazy old coot Stumpy in Rio Bravo.

It might be historically inaccurate but the film is Ford at his entertaining best and although I've yet to revisit The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, I'm amazed at how much I keep enjoying his movies. But what is with the wussy title?


I Love My Job



















This is a photo of a press kit that arrived today. Yes, that is a 750 ml bottle of rum. Yes, I am going to drink it. (Our publisher might think HE'S going to drink it but the press kit was clearly addressed to ME.)

"The Original Sailor Jerry Spiced Navy Rum 92 Proof" is, according to the press materials, "a cult classic in the U.S. and the U.K."

It's "arrival has been long awaited in Canada."

"The drink brings with it the kind of devout following legends are made of," says the hyperbole-free press release. "fans worldwide raise a glass to Jerry on MySpace, Facebook, blogs, and in bars and backyards everywhere."

Well, if it's on MyFace AND Spacebook, I guess it must be good. You can read more Sailor Jerry propaganda here.

Why am I losing respect for cops and the justice system?

Let me count the ways...

Twenty-one lousy days! And some sort of conditional suspended sentence at that? Are you friggin' serious?

If I went on this sort of a rampage, they'd be piping the sunshine in to me for many a long day, I feel quite certain of that. But apparently this asshat of a cop gets some sort of a special deal?

Let's recap, shall we?

He downs a couple dozen drinks. Commandeers a car, while lying about being a Vancouver cop. Threatens to "destroy" the driver -- who has since died, though the circumstances of that death are never explained in the article -- though based on this asshole's conduct I'm more than prepared to believe he killed the poor son of a bitch to keep him quiet.

Then he instructs the driver to take him to another nightclub, where he meets two other cops -- one of which is a "use of force" instructor at the local police academy, for the love of friggin' Mike.

Too drunk to control himself, he gets into a fight with a hapless friggin' newspaper seller that doesn't snap to quite quickly enough for this little nascent brownshirt -- so he and said instructor assault the newsie so savagely his doctor still won't clear him to drive months later? An assault, I should add, that a number of bystanders said was racially motivated?

And when the real on duty police show up, what do these three pricks do? Try to pin it on the victim, naturally.

Thus confirming what I've always known. That when it's called a police state, it's NEVER a good thing. Why didn't they just taser him already? Dead men don't talk, after all.

These pricks should remember that their ability to police ALWAYS depends on their perceived legitimacy.

The second the citizens they're purporting to defend start to believe they're just being preyed on... well, then it's a whole new violent bloody mess of a ball game.

After all, when they kick out your front door, how you gonna go? With your hands on your head or on the trigger of your gun?

Shatner Does Palin

I interrupt my writing retreat to bring you the following poetic gem.



Reposted from the Tonight Show.

If Rex Murphy lived in Vancouver …

Would he be denying the existence of global warming? Just wondering. (msnbc.com)

Six in the Morning

1. BC UTILITIES COMMISSION SAYS BURN MORE GAS: The BC government's plan to cultivate green energy in the province has been thwarted by a ruling from the BC Utilities Commission. The Commission claims it isn't in energy consumers' best interests for there to be so much invested in alternative energy. This is a serious blow to the government's greenhouse gas reduction program. Some environmentalists are scratching their heads at the Utilities Commission's recommendation to keep Burrard Thermal -- a natural gas fueled power plant -- outputting 5,000 GWh instead of reducing it to the 3,000 GWh the Campbell government was aiming for. Meanwhile, stock prices for Canadian green energy companies tanked after the Commission's report was released. (Globe and Mail)

2. DOUBTS ABOUT REGINA DOME: The Executive Director of the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon has some questions about dome plans in Regina. He says that he can see a need for a new sports complex here to replace Mosaic but wonders if the domed facility currently being pondered will actually attract any new business to the province. (Leader Post)

3. SUIT AGAINST SCHOOL BOARD EXPANDS: A Regina lawyer is expanding a lawsuit against the Regina Public School Board into a class action suit. The clients he is representing are protesting fees levied by Regina schools which provincial legislation says the schools should provide free of charge. Sounds like they've a case... I don't really know. And, yeah, if you're a low income family having your kid's school ask for an additional $400 a year is a big problem. But at the same time, when you think of all the pressure to keep property and provincial taxes low, could extra school fees be a case of parents reaping what they sow? (Leader Post)

4. MICROSOFT AND YAHOO STRIKE DEAL: Two companies I couldn't care less about reached a "search advertising" agreement. The deal, between the maker of an operating system I don't trust and will never use again and the company behind a search site so irrelevant even I never visit it, is expected to generate $500million in revenue for the companies. Whoop-di-doo. (Guardian)

5. CANADIAN PONZI SCHEME GUY BANKRUPT: Earl Jone's company was declared bankrupt by a Quebec court. (CBC)

6. O'REILLY NOT SO GOOD AT THE MATH: Video of Bill O'Reilly saying US has worse life expectancy than Canada because it has 10 times as many people. Ha ha. (Media Matters)

7.28.2009

Danger, Danger



This something people really need to stop doing. (CBC)

Red Planet


If you get a chance in the next few months, check out Mars. Once every two years or so its orbit with Earth synchs up and we end up pretty close together. While this opposition will be nowhere near as spectacular as the one in 2003, which was the closest in 50,000 years, with Mars coming within 56 million km of Earth and shining at a magnitude of -2.7 (Mars will close to within 99 million km in January, and shine at magnitude -1.2) at some points in its orbit Mars is as much as 400 million km from Earth, so it will still be pretty prominent. Currently, the planet's rising in the south-east around sunset.

Seattle Slogs Sask

Slog, the blog of Seattle's crazy-excellent alternative mag The Stranger, has a post on the recent human rights ruling on a Sask marriage commissioner fined for refusing to marry a gay couple. The post, by The Stranger's editorial director Dan Savage, is here. Check it out.

Midnight Mind-Blown

Okay, so now bacteria can be programmed to solve mathematical problems. Right. And they're faster than computers. Okay.

That's it, science has officially melted my puny little mind.

Full story here, at the Guardian--the newspaper Rex Murphy Dares Not Read.

7.27.2009

Memo to the Big Three


Uh, when you're busy planning your restructurings, you might want to consider something along the lines of what Nissan's doing. (MSN)

Rex Murphy: A Second Opinion

He's a contrarian asshole. No, seriously.

How's that for a second opinion?

By disputing climate change in Canada's paper of record based on his (irrelevent) personal observations of local weather conditions and on Ian Plimer's discredited anti climate change book book Heaven + Earth, Rex Murphy casts doubt on what scientific consensus says is a clear and present danger to civilization that requires immediate action.

Murphy's article is appalling. It's like defending smoking as harmless. In fact it's worse, because unlike smoking, climate change is a threat to our standard of living, our civilization and possibly our species.

There's just too much at stake to let Murphy's column pass without comment. First, about Plimer's book, which Rex Murphy is enamoured with. Is it any good? Not according to this July 10 column by the Guardian's science editor, George Monbiot:

"Seldom has a book been as cleanly murdered by scientists as Ian Plimer's Heaven + Earth, which purports to show that man-made climate change is nonsense. Since its publication in Australia it has been ridiculed for a hilarious series of schoolboy errors, and its fudging and manipulation of the data."

You can read the full thing here. Monbiot's column is a rebuke to a British newspaper, The Spectator, that published a glowing feature about Plimer's crappy book.

Second, if we're going to throw around anecdotes about weather, here's one that's worth a little more than Murphy's. It's from Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk, who's currently enjoying the view from the International Space Station. Thirsk, who was last in space over a decade ago, has some observations:

"This is probably just a perception, but I just have the feeling that the glaciers are melting, the snow capping the mountains is less than it was 12 years ago when I saw it last time."

You can read the full story with that quote here (Montreal Gazette). Thirsk's "perception", incidentally, agrees with U.S. satellite photos which Dechene posted about earlier today.

The science editors and astronauts agree: we've got a global warming problem, Houston. Too bad a few days of mellow weather and a crappy book convinced a Globe And Mail columnist there's nothing to worry about.

U.S. Spies Prove Climate Deniers Wrong

Following up on this post, one of Ian Plimer's many ridiculous claims in Heaven and Earth is this one:
The good news is that alpine valley glaciers are not retreating. Measurements of retreats and advances from glaciers in the period 1946–1995 for 246 glaciers show that there is no sign of any recent global trend towards increased glacier melting.
It leaves one with the impression that we've little to worry as the world's glaciers aren't disappearing.

Well, as is being reported in the Guardian, the Obama administration has recently declassified a whole whack of satellite photos of the arctic, and the photo evidence is undeniable: arctic and glacial ice is retreating at an alarming pace. (More on that story here. And a really scary gallery of photos here.)

How could Plimer (and by extension Rex Murphy) get things so wrong? Well, as Enting points out, the first sentence in that quote above doesn't follow from the second. Plimer, it seems, is confusing speed with acceleration. The source he's using there did indeed show that glacial melting is not speeding up from year to year. But that glacial melt isn't accelerating doesn't mean that it isn't happening. In fact, that's exactly what Plimer's source shows (and the spy satellite pictures prove once again): Glacial ice is reteating at a steady (a more literate columnist might say "inexorable") pace.

Message to Rex Murphy: Cut That Out Right This Minute

Yet more evidence that having a really marvelous grasp of the English language doesn't mean you actually know anything -- or, rather, that critique is not the same as analysis: in his Globe And Mail column last week, Rex Murphy attempted to make the case that global warming isn't happening. His evidence? He stepped outside, apparently. I guess if things are chilly in Toronto then so goes the globe.

It's a loathsome position Mr Murphy is staking out for himself but fortunately it's one he should find he's rather isolated in. I have to wonder if he knows what he's getting himself into. Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Bill O'Reilly, George Noory. Not exactly the class of people I expect Rex is used to palling around with. What will they talk about? He'll have to buy all his new chums pocket dictionaries.

But that's the hell he's condemned himself to.

Thing is, while having such an eloquent voice out shilling for the forces of ignorance is a VERY dangerous thing, I can't help but feel a little sorry for the cranky ol'coot from Newfoundland (my current favourite province, I should note). It seems he has fallen under the spell of one of those lengthy tomes of shoddy, conservative-pleasing, quasi-science that pop up in airport bookstores now and then: Ian Plimer's Heaven and Earth: Global Warming - the Missing Science. It's over 500 pages long, has a raft of citations throughout and has both a colon and an N-dash in the title, I can see how Rex might be tricked into thinking it's legit.

As it turns out, it's anything but.

You can find a list of rebuttals of Plimer's book here. A particularly good one is a point-by-point analysis by mathematical physicist Ian Enting. The thrust of his critique is that Plimer's work has numerous internal inconsistencies and that despite extensive referencing, his more controversial claims lack citation or the contents of his reference are mis-quoted.

In short, Plimer never actually manages to prove that humans aren't causing climate change but that fact is obfuscated by all his misleading assertions, phony references and deceptively rendered graphs.

Meanwhile, Rex Murphy calls the book "fearless" and practically dares us to read it. Which, admittedly, I won't be doing. But then, I haven't read any of the more recent works on UFO research, homeopathy or cryptozoology but still I'm confident they're crap.

This Week At City Hall

Have to say, I'm not minding this new one-week-on, one-week-off summertime council schedule. Looks like this is an off week as there are no meetings listed.

Six In The Morning

Back from Winnipeg! And, you think the Riders suck? You should've seen the unhappy Bomber fans this weekend. Hahaha! Anyway:

1 CONWAY RUNNING FOR COUNCIL Former School Board member John Conway has thrown his hat into the ring for this fall's municipal election. You can read Joe Couture's Leader-Post story here. Prairie dog readers will recognize John for his political column, which appears in most issues but is currently on summer hiatus. Conway will contest Ward 3, which includes the Cathedral neighbourhood and downtown. The ward is currently served by five-term councillor Fred Clipsham. The municipal election will be held Wednesday Oct. 28.

2 JUST BECAUSE ALBERTA DOES IT DOESN'T MEAN WE HAVE TO Our Western neighbours are offering everyone free flu shots this fall. Saskatchewan, however, is not. You have to be in an at-risk group if you want a free jab. On the bright side, Swine Flu vaccination will be free. (StarPhoenix, CBC)

3 RELIGIOUS OBJECTOR LOSES APPEAL This is last week's news but we haven't had anything on it so here it is now: Tough luck Mr. "God Hates Homosexuals"-- If your job is marrying people in civil ceremonies, you have to marry them. Your personal hang-ups, sorry, "beliefs", are irrelevant. If you don't want to marry gays and lesbians, become a priest/pastor/whatever and go not-marry people for a real church or other recognized religious body. Thank you and have a nice day.

4 SEALED AND DELIVERED Europe bans Canadian seal stuff (with exemption for traditional hunters). Canada goes tattling to the World Trade Organization. (Globe And Mail)

5 "THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO PLAN" Sarah Palin, proud recipient of 20 ethics complaints, is done in Alaska. (New York Times)

6 FIVE NHL GAMES IN SASKATOON? Not a bad idea but I doubt the NHLPA would go for five extra road games.

7.26.2009

Sports Report


Tough day for fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday. Against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Jays led 8-0 after four innings, but eventually lost 10-9 in 12 innings. The Riders, meanwhile, were up 22-0 on the Edmonton Eskimos, but couldn't hold the lead and ended up losing 38-33. What was it Yogi Berra used to say?

7.25.2009

Saturday Morning Cartoon

After running across the strange and bizarre Pac-Man cartoon, I discovered that while the first season of Pac-Man played in the The Pac-Man/Little Rascals/Richie Rich Show. Season two was The Pac-Man/Rubik the Amazing Cube Hour. That's right - they made a cartoon out of puzzle toy.

The plot featured a Rubik's Cube that came to life when the puzzle was solved. Unlike the Lament Configuration puzzle from Hellraiser - instead of hooks and chains, it grew legs and a head and flew around helping people.

It's name was Rubik and it all sorts of magic powers. It had escaped from an evil magician and it spent most of its time being solved and saving the three Hispanic kids who had found it.

I think it's the weirdest product placement I've seen in awhile. And after watching this, I can't help but wonder when the IPod cartoon is coming.

7.24.2009

Friday Afternoon Various-Animals

I'm sitting on a Greyhound bus somewhere between Virden and Brandon, Manitoba right now using my amazing powers to remotely post this week's Friday Pet Thing.

I am doing this even though 1.) I have no computer 2.) I have no Internet access 3.) I'm asleep with Ghost Bees' Tasseomancy playing quietly on my awesome purple iPod Nano, which (in case I didn't say) is purple.

Enjoy this video, which I post without any consideration whatsoever for credit or copyright. There's an annoying song too, so maybe turn it up.




(Okay yeah, so I wrote this Wednesday night and post-dated it for Friday. You know what? You'd never know if I hadn't told you.)

Right... like that's going to work...

Doubling down always works. Just ask anyone down at the casino...

So can anyone tell me exactly when everyone running something in the western world -- from our governments to our corporations to our pension plans -- became a complete friggin' idiot?

7.23.2009

Business to Planet: Survival First, We'll Go Green Later

We are so screwed. Today's Business Incubator on the Globe and Mail website considers the question of how important the environment should be to your business. Considering this is being taped and put on the web for anyone to see, you have to assume this group of business owners and consultants are putting their best face forward. And as it turns out, the consensus Canada's business people want the world to see is that the public doesn't really care about the environment so why should they? Moreover, as we're in a recession, business people have to worry about their own survival before concerning themselves about anything as abstract as the planet's.

In other words, if you and I, as consumers, don't stop buying over-packaged, toxic products shipped from the four corners of the globe (because we have sooooo many options), companies won't stop making them. In fact, they'll make more.

Sounds like yet more evidence that the only way to get anything accomplished for the environment is through strong federal legislation. But, hey, that's just me.

That's gonna leave a mark on the ol' endowment fund

When you start eating your seed corn, you're screwed, or so the old story goes.

So, in a high-tech, information-age, knowledge economy, what happens when your elite universities are slipping into an economic death-spiral and refuse to face up to the fact?

This is a major, if understated, new development in the slow unwinding of America. If they don't figure it out, but quick, there is no good end to this story.

North America has, frankly, been suffering from a lack of investment in knowledge for quite some time, and this is only going to exacerbate it.

If it's not addressed, it's only going to be a matter of time before the exciting new breakthroughs begin emanating from China and India, not Europe and North America.

Six In The Morning

1 HAIL TO THE CHIEF Shawn Atleo is the new head of the Assembly of First Nations after a long, long, long vote that started yesterday and just ended shortly after eight this morning. The 42-year-old Atleo, who comes from Vancouver Island, defeated second-place candidate Perry Bellgarde of Saskatchewan by capturing 58 per cent of the vote, which was held in Calgary. Would-be leaders need 60 per cent support from the AFN, but Bellgarde conceded after Atleo captured 58 per cent of the vote onn the ninth ballot. Here's the story in the Globe and Mail.

2 WORKING CLASS Saskatchewan teens get the legislation they've been lobbying for and now they can start working at age 14 (some restrictions apply). Our teens deserve the right to work five three-hour shifts in the service industry every weekday (they can work extra shifts on the weekend, presumably). I'm just relieved that the bullies in Saskatchewan's business community--who I assume opposed the Sask Party government's changes because conservatives like traditional values, like saving your hard work for school--aren't trying to block this forward-looking legislation. (StarPhoenix)

3 TAZE TRUTH A report on Tasers and policing comes out today. The CBC has a brief report here. I suspect the report will report that tasers are insanely dangerous. Dog Blog will report back on this later.

4 COME ON, YOU GUYS! U.S. President Barack Obama held a high-profile news conference yesterday that observers say was an attempt to sell health care reform directly to Americans. But it's a hard sell because while Americans overwhelmingly (72 per cent in one poll) support a public option in health care, they also overwhelmingly vote for politicians--Democrats AND Republicans--who oppose such so-called socialism. Glad I live in Canada. If I get cancer I won't need my insurance agent's permission to have treatment. (New York Times)

"5 THERE WOULD BE NO UNITED STATES IF IT HAD NOT BEEN FOR GOD" The Guardian's journalists can write all the well-written, impartially-reported stories they want. I say it's time for Texas' school-sabotaging fundamentalist Christians to fuck off. I have no doubt Texas' many smart, sane citizens agree.

6 DAILY MOON: THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE Here's an amazing documentary by director William Karel on how the moon landing was faked. I post it for all you die-hard conspiracy cats. (Stanley Kubrick filmed it? Really?) I saw Dark Side Of The Moon (Opération Lune in the original French) on CBC's The Passionate Eye a few years ago and vouch for its excellence but I haven't watched this particular file to the end so if there are any weird problems please zap us an e-mail at feedback@prairiedogmag.com. UPDATE: well, here's one weird problem...the ending is clipped short and the credits are only partly visable. Which destroys the entire point of the doc, since (spoiler!) there's actually a twist ending. So I'm yanking this video. But if you ever get a chance to see Dark Side Of The Moon, check it out.

7.22.2009

Hey Nerds:


















Here's some news for you. There's going to be a World of Warcraft movie. And Spider-Man/Drag Me To Hell/Evil Dead director Sam Raimi is in charge. So it's probably going to have a gigantic budget. (Dark Horizons)
There you go--now you can fight for Azeroth with a fresh sense of purpose.

UPDATE: Here's the story in the Guardian (yes, I go to the Guardian for everything, I know, I know. But it's soooooooo good). Also, I've added an image from the game courtesy Friend O' Dog Blog Peakay. It's a gnome warlock named Fidgit. Fidgit rawks.

RPL Update


Things have been kind of quiet with respect to the central library expansion since the initiative was first announced this spring. Until July 31, the RPL has this on-line survey operating to gather further input.

Urge to kill... rising...

What a douchebag. Nothing like being an apologist for your clients, I suppose.

Memo to Wall Street: We hate you because you're double-standard promoting pricks. You spent the past generation telling the rest of us we're the problem because of our insistence on things like basic labour standards, living wages, and so forth. So wear it, assholes, now that you've so totally screwed the pooch that people have started to wake up a bit.

Poor l'il rich boys. Sell a few fucking apples on the street corner, then we'll talk. Or better yet, jump out of your fucking office windows. It's like the congressman said. Do the right thing and kill yourselves.

Oh, and a personal message to Dough Hirschhorn: Coach this, you bald prick.

Six in the Morning

1. SMELLS LIKE MORE TORY HOMOPHOBIA: Word came out yesterday that Canada's Conservative government rejected a funding request from Montreal's gay and lesbian arts festival, Divers-Cite. This despite the fact that the festival met the criteria laid out in the new tourism funding program. And it looks like all was well with the application right up until it was sent to Minister Tony Clement's office for final approval. This all comes on the heels of Conservative MP Brad Trost's claims that the majority of Conservative caucus members don't support funding gay events, claims which contributed to MP Diane Ablonczy losing her job for funding the Toronto Pride Festival, but oh no, the Conservatives aren't homophobes, look at all the senior cabinet ministers leaping to her defense, and see, the organizer of Montreal's gay and lesbian arts festival says they've been funded just fine under the Conservatives.... Gosh. Well, if Divers-Cite is leaping to the Conservatives defense, they can't be homophobes, now can they? I imagine part of what inspired them to defend the Conservatives is they didn't want to put their funding request in jeopardy. How'd that work out for you? Oh yeah, it got rejected. (Globe and Mail)

2. HARPER GOVERNMENT INDIFFERENT TO ABDELRAZIK'S PLIGHT: Apparently, Harper's Conservatives were apprised of the fact that Sudan was planning to "dissapear" Abousfian Abdelrazik, but instead of protesting, they sent a non-committal response. (Globe and Mail)

3. HANG ON, I THOUGHT WE ALREADY HAD A WALMART: Oh bloody joy, Saskatchewan is soon to be home to two Walmart supercentres. One of which will be part of the slab of retail in the Grasslands commercial development in Regina's south west. In other news, the soon-to-be-Wallmartless Southland Mall is gearing up to become an empty shell of its former self a la the Golden Mile. (Leader Post)

4. SASK GOVT TO MAKE CHANGES TO MIMINUM AGE OF EMPLOYMENT: The announcement will come later today. Any guesses on how low it'll go? (Leader Post)

5. GOVERNMENT TO LAUNCH COPYRIGHT CONSULTATION: The Conservatives are launching a national consultation on copyright in the digital age. Bad news is the Conservatives have shown themselves to be leaning towards more draconian copyright measures along the lines of what they have in the United States and this could all be prelude to them putting out something to that effect and claiming it's what the public wants. The good news is that presumably with this consultation coming up, they won't try to drive through their draconian copyright legislation from last year any time soon. (rabble.ca)

6. RCMP CONSIDERING ARCTIC INTELLIGENCE NETWORK: In an effort to thwart organized crime in Canada's northern territories, the RCMP is looking into ways to expand their criminal intelligence network northward. (CBC)

7.21.2009

Something To Do



Saw the new exhibition Diabolique at the Dunlop Art Gallery tonight. It's curated by Amanda Cachia, includes 22 Canadian and international artists, is split into two parts with the second half scheduled to run in the fall, and addresses themes of war and violence. Among the pieces on display is one of Douglas Coupland's provocative life-size toy soldier sculptures. The show is definitely worth checking out. In our July 30 issue I'll have a review.

Rosie's Top 6 In The A.M.

1 MOON GRUMP As if we haven't been mooned out enough, take a look at an interview a NASA PR hack did with Apollo 11's command module pilot, Michael Collins (he was the one who stayed in the command module while Armstrong and Aldrin went to the moon). He sounds like your grouchy – but perceptive – grandfather and an environmentalist at the same time. Can't say I don't agree with him. (NASA)

2 MOON? NYET. While we're on the topic, let's spare a thought for the Soviet Union's failed moonshot program (Wikipedia). Plagued by a lack of money, lack of resources, and scientists and engineers infighting like cats in a bag, it's amazing that they got as far as they did. It's doubtful whether their manned lunar lander would’ve worked but the major reason why it didn't work was the N1 rocket (myspacemuseum.com) which stood as tall as the Saturn V but whose engines weren't as powerful. The first stage was comprised of 30 rockets strapped together, and no N1 flight lasted as long as the first stage cut-off. Here's what it looked like when one of the suckers exploded. (metacafe.com)


Russian Moon Rocket Disaster - The most amazing bloopers are here

Three weeks before the Apollo 11 landing, the Soviets tried to launch an N1, but it blew up on the launch pad, killing many launch site technicians and engineers. A good analysis of all that went wrong in the Soviet Union's moonshot program can be found at Encyclopaedia Astronautica (Encyclopaedia Astronautica), along with other NASA, United States Army and United States Air Force plans for moonbases that were formulated in the 1950s and 1960s.

3 NO FREE RIDES One of the strangest things I'm hearing in the entire Saskadome debate (Leader-Post) is the Sask. Party government getting on about how no taxpayers' money will be used to construct the $350 million (estimate? Guesstimate?) cost to build the thing. A lot of those proposals for paying for it involve funds from the Crown corporations or the Saskatchewan Gaming Commission (the people who run Casio Regina and Casino Moose Jaw). Well, they're supposed to be turning over their profits to the provincial government's revenue stream. And if they don't, then the money's going to come from somewhere – either higher taxes or cuts to government programs. Taxpayers will still pay the cost, directly or indirectly.

4 HEAD HORROR Talk about burying your lede, Ian Hamilton … a good piece on Tony Proudfoot's battle with Lou Gehrig's Disease (Leader-Post) leaves the most important part to the second-last paragraph. Are there more football players suffering from ALS? Is there something that makes football players more prone to suffering ALS—head injuries, concussions, that sort of thing? Is the CFL Players Association worried about its members? Are current players worried?

5 TRUE PATRIOT Just when you think Fox News Network can't go any lower … a chickenhawk war correspondent talks about an American solider captured by the Taliban a couple of weeks ago, and says he should be killed. (Crooks and Liars)

6 WINNING WHEELS Oh yeah. Almost forgot. I interviewed two members of the Pile O'Bones roller derby club in advance of their event Saturday night at the Caledonian Curling Club. The first reader who makes it this far and e-mails me (slarose@sasktel.net) gets two tickets to the roller derby.

7.20.2009

Watchmen Scoop

Guess this comix/superhero movie gets its DVD and Blu-Ray release tomorrow. Here's one scene that didn't make it into the theatre version but will be featured in Zack Snyder's director's cut. (College Humor)

Six In The Afternoon

So here's what's up:

1 STADIUM STUDY ANNOUNCED It's official (Leader-Post). I love the location and I love that they're talking about a retractable roof, which I think is critical. (It's not football in Regina if you can't hear the crowd cheering all ove the city). There are more important things to spend $350 million on, though. Should be an interesting story to follow.

2 BRITISH COLUMBIA RAIL SCANDAL GETTING UGLY The judge in the case about the shenaniganic privatization of BC Rail orders recently-reelected premier Gordon Campbell to turn over e-mails that may have been illegally deleted (Globe And Mail). Kind of makes the BC NDP look pretty good in retrospect. Don't you think?

3 BC BURNING In other BC news, hot, dry weather is making a bad forest fire situation worse. Yikes. (Toronto Star)

4 DITCHES IN A DRY LAND? Prairie lakes are dryer than usual, say experts. But the experts say they've been dryer in the past. Nevertheless, aieeeee (Globe and Mail).

5 AFN GEARS UP FOR ELECTION The Assembly of First Nations is preparing to elect a new leader (StarPhoenix). You know what would be cool? If everyone with a treaty card could vote, instead of just 633 chiefs.

6 I'M STILL BUMMED ABOUT WALTER So let's see what there is to read... well, here's a good, long blog post on the late Walter Cronkite in Salon by the always excellent Glenn Greenwald. And here's one in the Guardian. And here's one in the New York Times. And here's one in the Washington Post, by Tom Brokaw. And here's the Associated Press story, also in the Washington Post. And here's one more essay in the Huffington Post. And i have to get back to work now.

The Moon Landing, 40 Years Later


Forty years ago today, Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon. Thanks to the Dechene Family Moon Landing Archives (ie, a pile of newspapers in an old Zehrs bag) here are some pics from the Globe and Mail announcing the achievement. I do believe you can click on them to see larger versions...

7.19.2009

Daily Moon: Walter Cronkite Memorial Edition

Back from Saskatoon! Good to be home.

Well, it's a little rah-rah-U.S.A.! for my tastes but I always liked newsman Walter Cronkite, who passed away yesterday so what the hell. Here's 90 seconds of Cronkite reflecting on his coverage of the moon landing, ripped from the youtoob.



Dechene mentioned something special he's got so I'm hoping he'll put that up as tomorrow's Daily Moon. We'll see!

This Week at City Hall


In Maclean's recent ranking of best and worst-run Canadian cities, Regina received an awfully mediocre score. Now, there's a fair bit of bad blood between this town and Maclean's gang of merry statisticians. But there is an easy way to test the validity of this latest slur against our fair burg: come on down to city hall and see how things actually run. Here's what's going on this week...

Monday, July 20
City Council (5:30 pm): Considering a partnership with the RPL to relocate the Prince of Wales Branch into the Core Ritchie Neighbourhood Centre, a proposed renovation for St Paul's Cathedral, two condo conversions which were referred back to administration at the last council meeting, a tax abatement for Restwell Mattresses, the new city hall cafeteria agreement, and more. Of note is a request from Councillor Fougere to review the city's pest control program with a focus on looking at how to better control our gopher problem, and a request from Councillor Hincks to review ways to improve the city's bike path network.

Tuesday July 21
Board of Police Commissioners (9:00 am): Reviewing crime statistics for May. Once again, crimes against people are up over last year (+12.9 per cent since May of 2008) while crimes against property are down (-13.9 per cent since May of 2008). For the record, on that Maclean's ranking, we scored well on safety and protection, coming in fifth place. The board will also be reviewing 13 letters of appreciation received by the RPS.
Community Services Advisory Committee (5:30 pm): Going over meeting times for 2009.

As always, complete meeting agendas and reports can be downloaded off the city's website.

7.18.2009

Saturday Morning Moontoon

In honor 40th Anniversary of the moon launch, it's a moon themed cartoon this morning.

Universal Studios are turning the 1979 video game Asteroids into a feature film but they clearly aren't the first film company to try and adapt a video game. In 1982 Hanna-Barbera Productions made Pac-Man into a bizarre Saturday morning kids cartoon on ABC for two seasons. Shirley (The Partridge Family) Jones' lesser half, comedian Marty Ingels provided the voice for Pac-Man. The plots usually had to do with an evil Darth Vader looking villain employing ghosts that try to steal magic power pellets from Pac-Man and his people. In this episode they try and steal them from the planet Earth while on the Moon.



There was some messed up cartoons in the '80s.

And just because I've been dying to post this really cool trailer for movie Moon and this is probably the last chance I'll get - here it is. Directed by David Bowie's son Duncan Jones and starring Sam Rockwell as the only man working on a Moon base with only two weeks left in his three year stay. Naturally he starts cracking up. Very cool stuff. Of course it will never play anywhere near here.

7.17.2009

Friday Afternoon Kitty!

Okay, this is kind of gross but it's too funny not to post.



I love the way the two kittens stop wrestling at the end, and just stare. Even kitties recognize when they're in the presence of a true artiste.

Six in the Morning

1. THANK HARPER FOR A DECADE OF DEFICITS: Yeah, we need stimulus. But thanks to the Conservatives stubborn refusal to raise taxes, we can expect to be in the red for at least the next ten years. Sound fiscal management. That's what you get from Conservatives. Yessir. They may be troglodytes on social issues and the environment but they sure can manage money. (Globe and Mail)

2. IRANIAN CLERIC CONDEMNS REGIME: Tens of thousands took to the streets in Iran, their protests bolstered by a speech by top cleric, Hashemi Rafsanjani, in which he condemned the governments handling of the civil unrest in June. Meanwhile, the badass of British letters, Martin Amis, provides a bit of context on the Iranian situation. This will be a long, slow and very painful uprising, he argues. (Guardian)

3. PALIN NOMINATES HERSELF CHIEF NUTBALL IN ANTI-SCIENCE MOB: Not wanting to fade into the background now that she's resigned as governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin penned an op-ed in today's Washington Post in which she attacks Obama's proposed cap-and-trade system. No one should care what she thinks about climate change but sadly many do so fortunately Media Matters has gone through her piece and picked it apart point by point. (Desmogblog.com, Media Matters)

4. YES, THIS IS AN UNSEASONABLY COOL SUMMER: It's official. What we've all suspected has been verified by science: this has been an unseasonably cool summer in Regina. In fact, it's been unseasonably cool everywhere in Canada except up north where the Yukon is uncharacteristically posting warmer temperatures than Toronto for July. Meteorologists, meanwhile, report that models predict the rest of the summer will be unseasonably warm. Climate change deniers have latched onto the colder-than-usual temperatures as evidence global warming is hoax. Everyone else looks on with alarm at the numerous uses of the word "unseasonable" in weather reports. (Leader Post, Globe and Mail)

5. MOUNTAIN LION VS. MAN WITH CHAINSAW: Not much more to the story than that. I post about it not merely because this is a pretty cool tale... that is, if you dig the old man-with-enormous-powertool-versus-nature plot, but more because I have to wonder what string of keywords are attached to it that it'd wind up featured in the automated news aggregator box on the rabble.ca website. (Guardian)

6. MOON LAUNCH WARRANTS EMBEDDED MOVIE TRAILER: In honour of the anniversary of our species first voyage to a celestial body, we bring you Space Nazis!.

Ice Baby, Ice

Further to Paul's Six in the Morning post on July 15 about a U.S. lobbyist touting the prospect of us being on the verge of another ice age. (College Humor)

Only Sixteen More Sleeps

I so cannot wait. (College Humor)

7.16.2009

New Dog!
























Cover by Carey Shaw

That's not a home and gardening magazine, it's the new issue of prairie dog. Here's a rundown on why it's great. And let me tell you it is great, hoo boy.

SECRET GARDENS The New Dance Horizon's summer fund-raiser is back. This year's theme? The Healing Garden. What's it all about? What's the fuss? Carle Steel launches herself into pretty fields of flowers looking for an answer. Will she find one? Who the hell knows--but Steel always brings something back alive.

MARY-LOU FINLAY & RICHARD FORD The storied host of as it happens drops chats with Gregory Beatty about her new book, which she will bring to this years Festival Of Words in Moose Jaw. It is an excellent interview. Also, Stephen LaRose speaks with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford, who's heading up to St. Michael's retreat for the Sage Hill writing workshop's 20th anniversary celebration. Also a fine conversation.

ROLLER DERBY! Another LaRose special, this one about the wheeled warriors of the Pile O' Bones roller derby squad. A great article, loads of fun.

ANNNNND THERE'S MORE! The secrets of the summer news hole, revealed! A horrifying look at the impacts of a range of climate changes that will make you want to hide under your bed for weeks with the air conditioning cranked! A fair and objective report on the Saskatchewan Party government's stupid idea that marriage commissioners (who get their cheques signed by taxpayers, not churches) should have the right to not marry couples they don't approve of (i.e. same-sex)! A depressing column by Gwynne Dyer about nuclear proliferation! An appetizing look at TWO great restaurants by Dining Dave! A review of Bruno! A review of the mediocre new CD by the guy from the White Stripes who should go back to his day job! And much more, including Street Wear, David Suzuki, My Music, Ask Greg, Queen City Confidential, News Quirks, and other examples of splendid printed-word fun. Look for it in grocery and convenience stores, pubs, coffee shops and our distinctive yellow street boxes. There are around 400 locatiions city-wide!

Ronald Reagan Hated You

Further to item #1 in my Six In The Morning, please enjoy this vintage recording of Ronald Reagan attacking public health care on behalf of a powerful special-interest group called the American Medical Association.



(And here’s some context from the New York Times’ Paul Krugman.)

Crap like this is why I freak out when I hear even a whisper suggesting the Canadian Medical Association might support ANY degree of private health care. Whenever ANYONE uses the word “socialism” to scapegoat political opponents or frighten the public, I think of haters like Reagan, whose evil bullshit helped entrench the for-profit U.S. health care system. Which makes lots of money for the U.S. insurance industry while failing countless Americans. This stuff makes me extra-furious because thanks to America’s bad example, Canada’s beloved public system is always under the shadow of privatization.

You know, I’m just a (co-) small business owner who wants to make enough money to enjoy the one life I get and have a fun job with swell co-workers. And I’m smart enough to realize it’s usually the so-called “socialists” who bring forward the ideas that actually benefit lower-middle class me and my scruffy company. They’re the ones who talk about fair taxation, a strong public sector, protecting the environment, looking out for the vulnerable. etc. etc. All the sane stuff I support.

Unless you’re a multi-millionaire it’s in your interests to be on the “socialist” team, too. Best of all, you don’t actually have to BE a socialist. You'll just have to put up with name-calling by prostitute politicians who care more about their special interest group buddies than they do about you.